Project Concept

Create an audio visualizer using ferrofluid as the medium.
By processing the audio signal we can use electromagnets to create a liquid display that will dance to the music.

  • We are a group passionate about music.
  • Really want to experiment with Ferrofluid.
  • Audio visualizers have been largely limited to screens or lights. We want a live display.
  • No comparable commercially available product.
  • A group of students at Purdue had a similar project.
  • Another group from the University of Southern Denmark had a similar concept, but had too large of a hardware footprint. Watch their demo.
  • We will have much better packaging and more degrees of freedom for movement than either product.
  • Hardware footprint minimization will be accomplished by suspending the fluid and using digital filters.
  • What this stuff looks like: Ferrofluid demo
Technical Specifications
  • Arduino UNO
  • Ferrofluid
  • Container for Ferrofluid
  • Audio splitter
  • AC to DC converter
  • Electromagnets
  • Relays/Variable Gain Amplifiers
  • Arduino Kernel (out of box)
  • FFT data to Relays mapper
  • Optional: Controlling lights
  • All connections are straight voltages.
  • Voltage to relay (or VGA) controls are 3.3v
  • Ferrofluid responds to music.
  • Visually appealing display.
  • Compact packaging (small hardware footprint).
  • Works out of the box. Plug into wall.
Risks & Mitigation Strategies
Risk Mitigation
Suspension fluid and ferrofluid interacting in unexpected ways. Research liquid interaction (hydrophobic vs. hydrophilic)
Packaging is going to be biggest challenge. Found a source for custom plexi-glass containers.
Optimal positioning of the magnets on the packaging. (ex. not obstructing display) Looking into donut shapes, tubes, multiple containers.
Magnets not strong enough to move fluid. Research electromagnet manufacturing, choose correct power, gauge, turns, etc.
FFT software may be too high latency. Do performance testing, tune back FFT quality (does not need to be that good).
Kids drinking the fluid. Warning label.
Senioritis. cure unknown
  • No relays yet, use LEDs to visualize correct magnet powering.
  • Vary current through magnets we make
    • Check heat (cannot be more that X degrees F)
    • Strength (enough to move fluid)
  • Test packaging
    • Vary shape, volume, dimensions
    • Material (ferrofluid should not stain)
  • Learning
    • Precise objectives are important
    • Project aspects undergo continuous refinement
  • Future plans
    • Finalize container design
    • Finish ordering/assembling VGAs
    • Connect all components to test container
    • Tweak FFT ouputs
  • Adu Bhandaru
  • Kunal Deodhar
  • Dan Stoll
  • Moni Sallam